Remembering and celebrating “The General” 

Photo by Archival Photo

Oct. 4, 2023, marked 25 years since the implosion of the Calgary General Hospital in the community of Bridgeland – Riverside.  The dramatic end to the hospital was watched by hundreds of our escarpments and thousands on TV.  It was a day that left many Calgarians feeling a great sense of loss.  Even today people recount fond memories of the hospital whether they were staff members, students, physicians, patients or their family members.

The 160-bed Calgary General Hospital #3 was opened in 1910 on the north side of the Bow River in the newly annexed community of Bridgeland.  It is reported that the opening was attended by over 1500 people, who arrived on foot and by horse and buggy for the significant event.  Fortunately, access to ‘the General’ from the city centre on the south side of the Bow River had been improved by the upgrading of the original wooden Langevin Bridge (renamed Reconciliation in 2017) to the steel truss bridge we use today.  Steel tracks had also been laid across the bridge for a new streetcar route that would take people close to the hospital.

The General Hospital served the many needs of a growing Calgary population over the years.  A School of Nursing was started in the early years, primarily to ensure there were trained staff to provide care for the sick.  State-of-the-art equipment such as X-ray machines and sterilizers were added.  New buildings were constructed to accommodate the healthcare needs of a growing Calgary and innovative practices such as joint replacements, forensic psychiatry, palliative care, urodynamics and a multiple sclerosis clinic were introduced over time.  By 1998, the Hospital and its grounds extended from 7A to 9A Street and from McDougall Road to 1st Avenue; it was a huge footprint!  Political decisions in the mid-1990s led to the closure and implosion of the entire campus of the hospital.

Soon after the demise of ‘the General’ a new high-density residential development called ‘the Bridges’ was planned for the area.  The former Hospital was commemorated with a large park space on the former grounds of the Hospital and a memorial wall extended from the escarpment and was made with bricks from the hospital.  For newcomers to the community today it is impossible to imagine the full extent of the Calgary General Hospital’s presence here.

The story of ‘the General’ has not been told and is at risk of being forgotten.  The Bridgeland – Riverside Community Association has initiated a project to tell the story.  We are undertaking a Commemorative Plaza Project that will enhance Murdoch Park and the Memorial Wall.  We’ve been researching and talking with people about their past experiences and have developed promotional material to describe our project.  We want to spread the news to as many Calgarians as possible – especially those who remember and still care about ‘the General’s’ significance in Calgary’s past.

In 2024 we’ll be hosting monthly information sessions where you’ll hear about the hospital’s evolution and have the opportunity to share your memories.  Conceptual plans for the proposed Commemorative Plaza will be shared.

Please consider yourselves invited to attend a session at the BRCA community centre at 917 Centre Ave NE.  Parking is available in a lot south of the building and there are nearby stops for both the CTrain (Bridgeland Memorial Station) and bus (#90).

Sessions will be held on the following dates: Monday, Jan 29, 1-3 PM; Tuesday, Feb 13, 1-3 PM; Thursday, March 14, 1-3 PM; Wednesday, April 24, 7-9 PM; Tuesday, May 14, 1-3 PM; and Thursday, June 6, 1-3 PM.

More information about the project is available via the QR code or you can contact us at